In the 1990s, Tabari Wallace aspired to a career in the NFL. But during high school, he became a teen father and also found himself overlooked for college recruitment. With his long-held dream and the future of his young family at stake, Wallace paid a visit to East Carolina University, where he introduced himself to the head football coach and gave him his athletic reel.
He was offered a walk-on spot on the team at ECU, where he eventually earned a full scholarship and a bachelor’s and master’s in rehabilitation. Wallace’s football career continued after college, but it competed with a new passion: teaching. Wallace rose quickly through the ranks of public school to be promoted to his first assistant principalship in 2003. By 2018, he was named North Carolina’s Principal of the Year.
Host Frank Stasio talks to Tabari Wallace about growing up in Craven County, sports and education, and what it was like to go viral earlier this year for visiting each of the 220 seniors at West Craven High School to deliver yard signs and personal accolades during the pandemic.